Here is a taste:
While insurrectionists were plotting to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, they took time to write and send a letter to an institution two blocks from their target: the Folger Shakespeare Library, the world’s largest collection of material related to the English playwright.
“We will be blocking access to your building … to prevent our persons of grievance from using you as a loophole,” read the insurrectionists’ letter, which circulated on a pro-Trump message board called TheDonald before the insurrection and was published this month in the Folger’s online archive.
The letter explained that the insurrectionists would create a 2.4-mile blockade “surrounding all buildings to which the U.S. Capitol has underground tunnels to” — including the John Adams Building of the Library of Congress, with which the Folger shares a block — presumably to prevent those inside the Capitol from escaping through the buildings.
“This is nothing personal to the library itself,” the letter continued. “We have no intention of damaging, trespassing, or otherwise altering your facility in any way…We sincerely apologize in advance to any inconvenience this may cause you … we are simply citizens practicing our 1st amendment rights and are only involving you by happenstance.”
The letter was postmarked Dec. 29, 2020, and mailed from Minnesota. But the Folger didn’t receive it until almost two weeks after the insurrection, said Melanie Bender Martin, a spokesperson for the library. The letter is now in the library’s digital archive and will soon be made accessible to the public in the physical archive.
“As a library, we felt we had a duty to preserve the letter and make it available for future generations to reference,” Martin said. The Folger, with the exception of its theater, is currently closed for renovations, but when it reopens in June, Martin said, any member of the public will be able to make an appointment to view the letter in the building’s reading room.
It appears the Folger was singled out by the letter writers. Bill Ryan, communications director for the Library of Congress, told The Washington Post, “We have no record of having received a letter of this kind.”
It might seem odd that the insurrectionists sent the letter to an institution that memorializes Shakespeare. But the Bard’s relationship to white nationalism — and specifically to a white American identity — has been long documented by scholars, including those who have drawn comparisons between the playwright’s works and the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Read the rest here.